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Friday, 05 June 2015 10:34


By tapping into film as the communication medium of choice for youth today, Reel Look has reached a range of teens, many of whom have been disconnected and faced extraordinary obstacles in their everyday lives. As studies have repeatedly demonstrated, when youth are engaged in their lives, they are much more likely to stay in school and graduate, which in turn minimizes their opportunities to be involved in violence and significantly reduces youth incarceration rates.

Throughout the school year, students participate during the school day in film production classes taught by Community TV Network instructors. The regular classes encourage student attendance and involvement, and their enthusiasm for the project often results in additional after-school hours developing their films – which means less time to get involved in gang activity or situations that could lead to violence.

As Reel Look has evolved over the years, students are seeing how far their voice can travel as they reach more audiences and influencers. As a result, youth are using their films as a jumping off point to take their messages beyond the walls of ASN member schools to advocate for action. This level of extended engagement and time commitment has ranged from presenting a petition to the U.S. Department of Education in Washington D.C. on human trafficking, to working with advocates to o btain grants enabling access to free lunches for students, to community organization efforts calling on peers, neighbors and advocacy organizations to step up and stop the violence.

Friday, 05 June 2015 10:29


Central to the Alternative Schools Network’s (ASN) goal of encouraging at-risk youth to stay in school and graduate is the organization’s role in preventing youth violence. In 2007, ASN began an ongoing partnership with Community TV Network (CTVN), a national leader on engaging youth for more than 38 years, to introduce the Chicago Youth Community Film Project: “Reel Look” which culminates each year with a screening of the students’ creative use of video storytelling to bring societal issues youth face every day to the forefront of discussions. The Film Project crosses over instructional learning and afterschool programming to engage teens around an area of high interest to their generation, and ultimately, serves as an effective vehicle to keep them off the streets.

Since its inception, the Film Project has grown to include more than 700 students, representing 11 ASN member alternative high schools and producing a significant body of work – a total of 159 films which have garnered notable awards.

40 Years of Service


2014 marked the 40th anniversary of the state’s only network of small, community-based alternative high schools – the Alternative Schools Network (ASN). On Thursday, November 13, 2014 the ASN celebrated its 40th anniversary with a gala event held at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Over 270 people were in attendance and 25 legislators (Aldermen, State Representatives and State Senators) were awarded for their continued support of the ASN and its programs which service youth who dropped out of traditional educational settings. It was an incredible event that highlighted the work of an incredible organization – one that continues to service disenfranchised youth and communities.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 00:00

GradNation: Don't Call Them Dropouts

A Report from America’s Promise Alliance and its Center for Promise at Tufts University with support from Target

Friday, 09 December 2011 00:00

Chicago Tonight: High School Dropout Rates

Chicago is home to the third largest public school district in the country, and it's a system that's plagued by a high dropout rate. A new study has taken a closer look at the individual and societal costs of dropping out. Andrew Sum, professor of Economics and director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, conducted the study. He shared the key findings with Chicago Tonight.

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